Looking to kick off the best summer ever but don’t know where to start? We picked 50 of our faves to get you started. Our ultimate list includes new eateries to make dinner time a dream, lazy day activities like picnics and fishing, as well as nearby destinations that you need to program into your GPS ASAP. Get going, the adventure awaits!
Photo: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk
1. Spend some time in the beach town of Santa Cruz. The beach, the Boardwalk and the beauty beckon!
2. Practice your kick flips at one of these local skateparks.
3. Head to SF to find your very own secret garden and frolick in the shade.
4. Snag at spot at one of these amazing fireworks displays that’s guaranteed to get you singing “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies.”
5. Satisfy your sweet tooth and put the kids to work at one of these local farms where you can pick the sweetest strawberries, blackberries and raspberries you’ve ever tasted.
Photo: Santana Row
7. Set up your tent where you can hear the waves crash. The Bay Area is full of beach camping spots perfect for your next off the grid family night.
8. Get your cotton candy, funnel cake and ferris wheel fix at a county fair. From Monterey to Sonoma, there’s definitely one near you.
9. Make a playdate via Muni at one of these spots that are easy to access via public transit.
Photo: Redwood City Events
11. Chill out in one of these cafes that are particularly suited for parents with kids in tow.
12. See how big our universe really is at one of these stargazing gatherings.
13. Say cheese! The Bay Area offers tons of awesome backdrops for your perfect family photo shoot.
14. Don the swimsuits and cool off at one of these splash pads at a park near you.
Photo: Kate Loweth
15. Pack up the car and spend the day in Pescadero. Hike, hit the beach, and don’t forget to eat some artichoke bread.
16. See what’s new at the zoo! Ride the gondola and check out the new California Trail exhibit at the Oakland Zoo.
17. Plan a road trip. These 10 options are must-dos for California kiddies.
18. Cool down in calm waters. Check out one of these swimming beaches perfect for kids!
19. Stay up a little past bedtime and watch one of your favorite movies outdoors, under the stars.
Photo: Kate Loweth
20. Drop your line and fry up your catch from one of these fishing spots perfect for little anglers.
22. Sip some adult beverages while the kids run through the fields at these wine country spots that welcome families.
23. Touch a starfish! Head to a nearby tide pool and get up close and personal with local sea life.
24. Chill out on a hot day at Icicles Cream Roll where Thai rolled ice cream is the name of the game. Now with five Bay Area locations!
Photo: Sarah Ordody
25. Learn the history of San Francisco at the new Presidio Visitor Center.
26. Power down the devices and relax in style at one of the glamping hot spots.
27. Pedal hard to one of the local trails where bikes are welcome.
28. Spread out your picnic blanket and run through the grass at the perfect picnic spot.
29. Enjoy the inclusive vibe at Palo Alto’s Magical Bridge Playground. Friday nights though September 1 brings live music for everyone to enjoy.
30. Drop the kids off for an art lesson at the mall.
31. Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love at one of the family-friendly celebrations.
32. Take a spin on one of the Bay Area’s many magical carousels.
33. Pick the perfect plum at a farmers’ market near you.
34. Batter up at one of these batting cages where you can hit a grand slam.
35. Skip the chicken fingers and try something new at one of these restaurants for adventurous little eaters.
36. Head to one of the taco joints to celebrate Taco Tuesday (or any day of the week, for that matter).
37. Blend up those fruits and veggies (shhhhh, we won’t tell) at one of these kid-friendly juice bars.
39. Eat under the sun by dining at one of SF’s many family-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating.
40. Make this the summer the kids perfect their kicks. Enroll them in swim lessons at one of these trusted locations.
41. Get healthy food delivered with these local CSA boxes.
Photo: Anita Chu
42. Beat the heat with some indoor fun at John’s Incredible Pizza in Newark. Part pizza joint, part arcade and totally fun.
43. Pretend you are Willy Wonka himself at one of these local candy shops.
44. Sleep with the chickens at one of these farms that let you stay the night.
45. Shoot the duck at one of these rad retro roller rinks.
46. Find out how your favorite foods are made, from jelly beans to fortune cookies, by going on a family-friendly food factory tour.
47. Swing by the newly-renovated South Park Playground.
48. Take a trip to China without the airfare at Chinatown’s newest foodie mecca – China Live.
49. Explore the world beyond our atmosphere at the Chabot Space and Science Center.
50. Two words: Ice Cream.
Anything that we should add to our list? Tell us in the comments below!
—Kate Loweth & Erin Feher